Well, I have been predicting that the end was nigh for wild garlic. Me (at least 10 times in the past couple of weeks):”Ooh, you’ll have to get out there quick because it’s only going to be around for another week.”
I am happy to be proved wrong. It just keeps a-coming! I am hearing reports from far and wide in the UK that not only is it still around, but that everyone and their dog seems to have caught wild garlic fever. Yay!
Wild garlic is really one of those foods that I have become quite evangelical about: uber useful, uber nutritious, mega tasty and, if you have some local woods or a river nearby, it’s free. I am smugly in the free camp. But even if you have to buy it, it is cheap stuff – in fancy organic shops and farmers markets, too. I think sellers have cottoned on to the fact that everyone who buys it knows that it grows abundantly, and that no one actually has to spend time and money growing the stuff, so they can’t fleece you on the price. Or at least I hope they aren’t! Supermarkets can’t stock it because it has the keeping qualities of a snowflake (exaggerating slightly). Buy it/pick it and use it within day or two. I find it stores best “dirty” and in a paper bag.
The easiest thing is to make pesto with it and then you have it for ages as it keeps brilliantly in the freezer. An immediate thing to do with at least a handful is to toss it onto a freshly baked pizza or add to a pasta dish. And that’s what I’ve done here. You will note that I also have kale tops/ sprouting kale blossoms on the pizza, which is that cute little hybrid around earlier in the year. I caught the last of them just as wild garlic was long enough to pick (end of March). Sub with baby kale leaves, shredded more mature kale, pinched off kale tops if you are growing your own. I also have recently used the flowering tops from kale plants that had over-wintered and gone a bit wild. In any case, the kale goes smoky and crispy in the heat and is utterly delicious. Broccoli is great too but just use something nippy to go with the tomato sauce.
Ooh, I’ve also made this with a bought (Quorn) vegan chorizo added, which was sublime, but I can’t really recommend commercially made vegan chorizos as they are pretty highly processed. I’m happy to be introduced to a good one though!
Just a little note on nutrition: tomato and kale together have what is known in the nutrition and dietetic worlds as culinary, or nutritional, synergy. Without going into too much detail (I bet my nutrition classes wish I would do the same for them!), basically their action in the body is amplified by their complementing plant chemicals.They are both good for us individually of course, but together they are potentially many times more potent. This may especially apply to some cancers. Scientist have observed in animal studies that it works on prostate tumours but the why, can it help other cancers, and the all-important “can we apply this to us” part is not yet known. In the meantime, we try and eat a broccoli-kale-cabbage-sprouts with tomato products meal a few times a week. Bonus tip: tomato puree/paste has more lycopene than fresh tomatoes.
Pizza as health food? Well, almost!
Wild Garlic and Kale Tops Pizza
1 quantity/ball pizza dough (bought or homemade) OR flatbread dough
1/2 cup of tomato sauce (bought or homemade)
2 handful of chopped kale, kale tops or kale sprouts – rub with a little oil
1 handful of mixed sliced spring onion and wild garlic stems
Crushed red chillies (I had some that dried from neglect over the winter and were perfect for this)
2 large handfuls grated cheese of choice, vegan if liked (I used mature cheddar, keeping it all-British)
2 tbsp rinsed capers
Olive oil, for drizzling
Large handful of wild garlic leaves (and flowers if they have blossomed), chopped if needed
Polenta or cornmeal for the baking tray (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/450F. Scatter polenta on the tray.
2. Roll out the dough, place it on the prepared tray, and spread with the sauce.
3. Add on the greens (except the wild garlic leaves themselves), capers and chilli; scatter over the cheese.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is golden, the greens are a bit crispy, and the cheese is bubbly. Immediately scatter over the wild garlic leaves, drizzle the oil around the edges of the crust, and devour immediately!
Wild Garlic Pasta with Broccoli, Walnuts and Cheese
Dried pasta – I like pipe rigate (50-75 g dried per person)
Toasted, broken walnuts (about 30g per person)
Purple sprouting broccoli or Tenderstem®-type broccoli, steamed or blanched for 2-3 minutes max
Nettles or spinach, blanched and chopped (about 1 packed cup before cooking)
a good handful of wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped – flowers too if you have them (keep whole)
Best extra virgin olive oil (about 1 tbsp per person)
Hard cheese, grated (about 30g per person) – I like grana padano
1. Cook the pasta as directed, a little underdone is seemingly better for our blood sugar levels. Drain, saving some of the cooking water.
2. Toss with everything but the cheese, adding any seasoning and a splash of the cooking water per serving. Plate up and sprinkle over the grated cheese. You may like to mix in a little wild garlic pesto. Here’s my latest version, below. And here’s a link to my original one (forgive the images; and it has a risotto recipe too).
Wild Garlic and Nettle Pesto, Take 2
100-120g wild garlic leaves and stems – cleaned, blanched for 30 seconds in boiling water, drained, squeezed dry and roughly chopped
50g wild nettles – as above
50g grana padano or vegetarian parmesan, grated
75g sunflower seeds, walnuts or pine nuts, toasted if possible
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (more to taste after you have blended it)
Salt and pepper, to taste
100ml best extra virgin olive oil (evoo) OR a blend of evoo and rapeseed oil (that’s what I do)
Method: Place everything in a blender, food processor or large pestle and mortar. Blitz or pound until you almost have the desired texture, then drizzle or fold in the oil just until mixed. Pop the paste into a sterilised jar or into bags for the freezer.
This recipe is easily increased to the quantities or ingredients that you have. I made LOADS of this and have about 20 little bags in the freezer now!
Other Wild Garlic Recipes on Food To Glow:
Wild Garlic Soup (very budget-minded)
Wild Garlic Pesto Risotto (a favourite recipe of mine)
…and here’s how I used wild garlic with some lovely Scottish salmon
PS If you aren’t sure about what is and what isn’t wild garlic, have a look at my Instagram post here (you don’t need an account to view it), where I briefly show and explain what to look for when picking or buying. My friend Elaine (foodbod) just posted about how useful she found this little guide. As a warning, she bought what was purported to be wild garlic but, when she checked my Instagram post, found that it was not. Picking the wrong thing – or buying the wrong thing – can lead to a very painful gut.
Popping this post over to Emily for her weekly and ‘all-inclusive” #recipeoftheweek sharing post. Cheers, Emily!
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